Thursday, November 6, 2008

Pray for Fatty

A lot of people who read this blog already know about the Fat Cyclist. But I also know many of you don't.

The Fat Cyclist is written by a man named Elden who lives in Utah. He started the blog several years ago as a journal of an overweight mountain biker trying to lose weight. His style is very lighthearted and many of his posts are outright hilarious. Fat Cyclist has become very famous and has won many awards in this crazy internet world we live in.

A couple years ago his wife, Susan, was diagnosed with breast cancer and has been fighting it bravely ever since. Lately things have taken a turn for the worse and she has been placed in hospice care. Through it all Elden has continued to write his blog and share his fears/worries/thoughts with what has become almost like a family and support system. He has used his platform to do some great things including raising a bunch of money for cancer research.

I lost my dad to cancer almost three years ago, and while its sometimes hard to read without tearing up, its also very inspiring to hear how someone else is dealing with what has to be one of the hardest things a person could go through, the loss of a spouse. So pray for Elden and his family and if you get a chance, check out one of the best blogs around. Read the story of Fatty here. And one more link to the blog for good measure; here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Back in the Saddle

This weekend marked the first time I had been out on a ride of longer than 2 hours since Laramie. At some point earlier this year, I had gotten the crazy idea that I wanted to ride my bike out to my in-laws house near Henderson, about 72 miles one way. I had even convinced another crazy soul to do the same. A conflict stopped the other from partaking in this particular ride, but I decided to head out anyway.

The morning started foggy, damp and cold. I left the house at around 7:30 and headed into the wetness with enough food and water to get me to my destination. Once out of Lincoln, I really enjoyed the quiet, just me and my music. And some animals, but they didn't respond when I initiated conversation.

Did I mention that I hadn't done a long ride for three months? About 30 miles in, I thought sure that both quads would lock up and I would be laying next to my bicycle in the middle of O Street writhing in pain. That didn't happen, but it definitely slowed me down and the next 26 miles weren't much fun. I did lay down next to my bicycle in the middle of O Street a couple times; but luckily I was just stretching.

For those paying attention 30+26 does not equal 72. I called in the reinforcements at York. I'd had enough fun for one day.

By the way, did you know that O Street is the longest main street in the US at 59 miles long? I saw the western terminus about 9 miles west of York. Trivia!!!

The El Mariachi needs some TLC. The damp air combined with the dirt from the roads turned my drivetrain into a squeaky mess. Also, ever since the Laramie race, my rear disk brake has been out of adjustment due to pad wear. Time to take her in to the World Headquarters for a tune.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Palin on SNL

Keeping with my promise to get off topic:

I don't think your political persuasion matters... that was really funny.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Cross Dreams

No cross racing for me this year due to scheduling conflicts, but it doesn't stop me daydreaming about it. VeloNews.TV has some great cyclocross videos that teach some basic skills. I tried to post one of the videos, but couldn't get it to work. Check them out yourself here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

College Football!! Woot!

I'm such a slacker. Blog updates are coming, seriously... someday...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Catching Up

Wow, its been awhile since I posted. Here's a quick recap: Closing. Moving. Cornhusker State Games. Work. Laramie. WORK. Video. Very busy but I know there are people waiting and wanting to hear whats been up so I'll try to start working through it all.

Closing went smoothly and so did the move despite the heat. We had a ton of great help all weekend (July 17-21). Thanks to everyone who helped us clean and move and start putting things away. Providing even more stress fun and to give ourselves a break was the Cornhusker State Games MTB race. I was excited because this was the first time that Laura would get to see me race and because I was eager to atone for what I considered to be a weak showing at the Norfolk race.

Awaiting the start (Pic courtesy of Cornbread)
Showed up just late enough that I didn't really have time to warm up, and it was already obvious that it was going to be a very hot and humid day. I had trained a lot since the first race of the year in preparation for Laramie, but due to rain and nature of the race, I hadn't spent a lot of time on singletrack. The beginning of the race played to my strengths in that it was a long grassy leadout before getting to the meat of the trail. Dan, myself and Ryan went off the front and put a bit of a gap on the rest of the pack. Hitting the trail in second place, my lack of singletrack riding caught up with me as I slowed down excessively in a corner and felt Ryan run into my back tire. It wasn't long before Dan rode away from us never to be seen again (by me anyway). This didn't bother me too much because Dan is a super strong rider and wasn't in the same age group that I was (I still need to hone my killer racing instinct).

I was able to maintain second place for half of the first lap before Ryan came around me and then another racer shortly after that on the next climb. My legs were feeling good, but I definitely was lacking the short burst power and cornering necessary for success. At this point I was in 4th overall and 3rd in my age group. I was caught by one more rider from the 35+ age group near the end of the lap and was relieved to hear that there wasn't anyone behind us for several minutes. He was able to get around me when I dabbed in a muddy section dropping me to 5th.

The second lap started pretty uneventful as I considered that as long as I didn't do anything stupid I would land on the podium for the first time in my very short stint as a racer. I kept looking around on the switchbacks and never saw anyone coming up behind me. Looking up the switchback climb it seemed like I was gaining ground back on Ryan, but it was hard to tell. I dropped my chain due to mud buildup toward the end of the lap but was able to get it back on quickly. The lap finishes with a long downhill on a service road followed by the reverse of the grassy section that started the race. As I entered the last singletrack section before the final stretch, I felt the dreaded squirm of my front tire that meant a flat. The singletrack was short so I hopped off and ran out to the top of the service road. I did a quick evaluation and determined that I wasn't going to change the tube. I wasn't thinking too clearly at this point but decided that I would run the rest of the way (about a mile).

After an hour of racing running in cycling shoes and pushing a bike with a flat tire is not fun at all. I kept looking back to see if anyone was catching me, and surprisingly I didn't see anyone. I was finally passed for fifth overall when I was within sight of the finish line. I didn't recognize the rider and had no idea if he was in my age group or not.

Running my bike to the finish line.
Post-race. Not a lot of explanation needed for this one...

Afterward I mostly just moped around and felt horrible. The effort totally wiped me out and I was pretty sure I had lost third in my category. I got cleaned up and Laura and I hung around to hear the final results. It took awhile for things to get sorted and it was about 45 minutes after I finished when I realized what I did wrong. A more experienced (or cognizant) racer would have reinflated the tube as it was and rode it out. Even if I had to stop and put in more air it would have been much faster than running the whole way. Oh well, I won't make that mistake again.

When the results were announced I was surprised to find out that I had held on to third place and took home a fancy bronze medal. Ryan got second in our age group and Rob, Robb, and Harp all had good races as well.

I'll try to recap the Laramie race soon. I think most of you know already, but I wasn't able to finish due to some severe dehydration. Robb on the other hand, killed it. More on all that in the coming days (I hope).

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


How it flies. Well tomorrow is closing day, and then the hateful (to me anyway) process of moving and organizing and cleaning begins. I've spent quite a bit of time on the bike in the past couple weeks and now its time to see where its gotten me. Sunday at Branched Oak for the Cornhusker State Games, and then Thursday of next week it is off to Laramie. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous.

I hope to start updating this blog again regularly once the moving is complete. Expect race reports and pictures.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Branched Oak (Area 7) @ 3:30

Title says it all. At a minimum Harp and I will be out there. Opportunities exist for carpooling. Leave a comment.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mandatory Vacation

I'm off of work this week and looking to ride. Let me know if you want to hook up. My schedule is pretty flexible.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Last year, my company hosted a film festival to promote ethics and encourage employees to get excited(!) about ethical issues. Our company is an aerospace/defense industry manufacturer with many locations across the country, and no one from Lincoln had ever submitted a film before so a co-worker and I decided to enter. I have a good friend with directorial and aesthetic talent (as well as an HD camera), so once we had an idea and a location we were ready to go.

Our film was selected to be a finalist and we, along with all the other finalists, received a complimentary weekend trip with our spouses to our company headquarters in Charlotte. Anyway, much fun was had and our film was selected to be the winner. Here it is:

This year, its time to defend our trophy. We're getting together to talk ideas and strategies for this years short film sometime in the next week. Any good ethics related ideas? It's all about having a good story.

P.S. The character from last years film can be seen in some great short countdowns produced by the same friend and for sale on his website. Lots of great media available there for use in church services or elsewhere.

Check it out. Nothing ever goes right for me him.
Thanksgiving, my personal favorite
Valentine's Day
Mother's Day

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Well, after many months of waiting, we are finally going to be home owners. This isn't the same house that I posted about before, but instead a foreclosure in a really neat neighborhood in the northwest part of Lincoln. Our closing date is July 16th. We are very excited, and will likely be posting many pictures and updates as the moving and settling process begins. For now, here are a couple pictures (click to make know the deal).

Monday, June 23, 2008

If The Clothes Made The Man...

I'd be faster. Thanks MWC! And thanks to the wife for my birthday present.

I signed up today for the Cornhusker State Games mountain bike race. I wavered a bit about what class I should enter, but I ended up choosing beginner. The race is just 6 days before Laramie, so 10 miles of racing sounded better for my preparation than 15 miles. Plus, as far as XC racing goes, I am still a beginner with only one under my belt.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Half a Hundred

Today was the Psycowpath race at Ponca State Park. I decided it wasn't worth the money and time to drive up solo for just an hour of racing because ultimately these XC races are just a secondary goal for this year.

With my real goals in mind, I set out this morning for a long ride with no plan other than to ride to Branched Oak State Recreation Area and check out the condition of the trails. It was an absolute bluebird day with no wind. The ride out was great, except I was chased by 3 dogs, one of which was a very large rottweiler. To this point, I had never been chased by a dog on a gravel road, so I really wasn't sure what to do (any tips?). I was able to ride away from them, but I'll admit I was pretty scared by 2 of the 3 dogs.

I got to the Area 1 campground at the lake about and hour and a half into my day and rode straight to the trailhead. The trails were just about perfect from a moisture standpoint, but they were way overgrown. I decided I didn't really want to be sweaty, itchy AND full of ticks so I turned around and headed back to the campground. I contemplated heading home at this point but I wanted to get some more miles in and I was feeling really good so I decided to keep going. I had already determined that I was going to head home on a different route to avoid the crazy dogs so I needed to come up with a new plan. I refilled my water bottles and headed out to do a lap of the lake.

I am usually meticulous in my route planning so heading out blind was a bit of an adventure. I chose several roads that didn't go through the way I wanted them to, but I ended up at home just the same. Right at 4 hours total time on the bike and a new personal record for distance ridden on my mountain bike at 50 miles (close enough for me). My nutrition and fluid intake was pretty good and my legs felt strong all the way to the end. Heres the map:

I've found that I really enjoy these longer rides in the country, but I am ready to get some singletrack riding/racing again. Next race on the schedule is the Cornhusker State Games, July 20th at Branched Oak; should be fun and hot. I think the early registration deadline is Monday. I need to remember to sign up.

I also found out today that I am officially off the waiting list and onto the roster for Laramie. Its time to get serious about training. I'm glad I banked this half-hundie today instead of driving to Ponca.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Since You've Been Gone

Crazy weather throughout the Midwest has wreaked havoc on my racing and training plans over the last month. We've been spared the severe flooding that Iowa is experiencing but we still have received 16.5" of rain in the six weeks since I posted last. Several races were postponed, cancelled, or altered because of this unprecedented amount of rain. The Branched Oak 12 hour race was one that I was really looking forward to, but Robb and I had to make an executive decision not to race in the mud. Bummer.

Due to these circumstances (and others yet to be mentioned) I only did two big rides during this time. The first was the Platte River Riot 6 hour Marathon race on May 18th. I obviously wasn't racing to win, so I went out with only the expectation to ride for as much of the 6 hours as possible and to learn some things about myself that would help in preparation for the Laramie race. I probably sat around a little bit more than I should have, but when it was all said and done I did 5 laps (roughly 1000 ft of climbing per lap), one less than I had hoped to do. The good news is that my nutrition plan worked great, and unlike in the past, after the race was over I was cogent and ready to eat the free hamburgers and hot dogs provided by the Cycleworks folks. As usual Tom got some great pictures. Here are a couple, check out his site for the rest.

Two weeks later Robb and I headed out for a long ride up to Branched Oak. I have always wanted to ride out that way, and I wasn't disappointed. Heading east-west by the lake, the hills were much bigger than what I was riding east of Lincoln. Very fun, and an area that I will be exploring much more often in the near future.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

And We're Back

Well, a month six weeks later and my blog is back from the dead. Lot's of new happenings, lots of rain, less riding. Look for some posts in the coming days summarizing whats gone on.

P.S. I didn't really want to get into it, but the reason for my absence was that Google mistakenly took my blog for a spam blog. Google's a big company and when you are trying to make an internet omelet of the size and quality that they're going for, sometimes you have to take some eggs away for six weeks. Anyway, its good to be back. Thanks Google!! (no sarcasm intended)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

So Who Won?

Missed out on the Psycowpath race today. I inquired the powers that be, and found out that I could have driven up and ridden in the sport race and not jeopardized my ability to race beginner for the rest of the year, but I decided it wasn't worth it. I did however plan on driving up and just riding some laps, but when I went out to the garage to load up my bike, I discovered I had a flat tire. Really strange too, because when I got the tube out, I couldn't find a leak. Not really sure how to explain that. I stuffed a new tube in just to be sure. Anyway, I ended up not doing any riding today.

I did get a ride in on Saturday however. Since I knew I wouldn't be racing this weekend, I headed out for my longest training ride of the year so far.

As soon as I hit the gravel, I could tell this was going to be a good ride. My legs felt really strong the whole time, and I pushed it pretty good through the wind and over the hills. It was just one of those perfect days. The route was good too. I am learning to appreciate anew the the beauty of Nebraska as viewed from a gravel road on a bicycle. I think next weekend I am going to ride to Elmwood to stretch it out to 50 miles. Anyone else interested?

Why would I do such a thing? Well, registration for the Laramie Enduro filled up this week, so I sent in my info to get on the waiting list. I am number ten on the list, and I am told this pretty much guarantees that I will be racing 111k in Laramie on July 26th. Let's get crazy!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Psycowpath #2 - Postponed

Bummer. The Swanson race has been postponed until Sunday due to rain. Beginners go off at noon, so it looks like I won't be racing this week, as I am playing drums in our church's praise band. The earliest I would be able to get to Omaha is 12:30 pm, and even that would be pushing it. I might head out there in the afternoon anyway just to get some miles in and hang out.

The Psycowpath series only counts 5 of 7 races, so I will need to make it to every race from here on out since I had hoped to be able to drop the first race. No more freebies for me.

Who knows, maybe it will rain enough that they will have to postpone the race again. That would be great, for me anyway.


Headed up to Swanson tonight for the MTB OMAHA TNR. A little last minute recon before the race on Saturday. I tried to no avail to find someone to drive up with me, and as soon as I was on the interstate I was questioning my decision to go solo. I stuck it out however, and ended up having a great time.

I didn't know a single person that was going to be there, other than in the "I read your blog" sense, so when I showed up and got ready, I kinda stayed on the fringes of the group. The people I recognized I knew were really fast, and seeing how I had never ridden that trail before, I stayed toward the back of the group when the ride began. The course was quite different than I expected, so I wasn't able to ride very fast at the beginning, and therefore quickly lost contact with the guys in front of me. Too many roots and tight turns. After dropping into the "Gully" and walking out, I ended up following a nice woman named Ann(ie?) for the rest of the lap. This was great, I got to learn the trail from a local who was riding the same pace as I was.

At the end of the lap, I said thank you, and headed out for another. This lap was much better, and I was pleased to find that I remembered most of the sections that I needed to remember. Back in the parking lot, as I was getting ready to pack up my bike, a couple of the BMCC guys came over. One of them, Tim W., had some nice things to say about my bike, and was super helpful answering a bunch of questions I had about raceday at Swanson. Thanks Tim!

It was mentioned that part of the TNR involves getting food afterward, but I needed to head back to Lincoln. Overall, a really fun night, on a cool trail. I hope to make it back up for another TNR.

Just a couple of notes about the course:
  • Tim indicated that in the past the "Gully" had been taped off for the race. I'm kind of hoping thats true for Saturday, because I can just imagine the potential carnage.
  • This course requires absolute focus. Some of the corners would be downright dangerous if you were to blow through them. There's one particular downhill switchback that is really easy to carry too much speed into.
  • If you've never been there before it will definitely be worth your time to get there early on Saturday to do a pre-ride. In my opinion, bike handling will be just as important as fitness for this race. Plus, it will help to close the gap on all the Omaha racers riding their 'home' course.
  • Some of the newer sections are really bumpy. My hands and arms were feeling it by the end of the night. I even ended up with a blister on my left hand. I'm still learning how to ride this rigid bike on rough terrain.
I could say more, but I won't. See you at the race.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Limits of Traction

Headed out to Wilderness Park after work today. I was hoping to make it all the way through the park and back, but the low spots south of Old Cheney were as marshy as ever. So I ended up turning around and just riding laps on the drier track on the north end. On the way back I rode some on the hiker trail; my first time on those trails. It was really fun, and there was no wetness anywhere on that side. You just have to be more careful about using your trail bell, and I always gave any hikers a wide berth and a friendly hello, since technically I shouldn't have been riding over there.

The goal was to remember how to ride my bike on tight, twisty trail before the race this weekend. It seems to me, based on what I have heard and on the trail map, that Swanson is a race that will be won and lost based on speed through the turns. Is that a wrong assumption? Anyway, I was really pushing the corners tonight, and managed to cross over the line from traction to washout on a tight right hand turn. Its alright though, no harm done, and I needed to experience that so I know what my current skill level and tire selection can handle.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Anyone want to hit some singletrack after work on Wednesday or Thursday? I am up for just about anything. Leave a comment if you do.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Weekend Update

Saturday, I went for a roundabout trip to pick up some nutrition from Cycleworks. I have been experimenting with some Hammer products to use during some of the longer races I plan to do this year and Cycleworks was the only place in Lincoln that had any in stock. The ride was good, but I will definitely want to get a bag if I am going to run errands on my bike.

So far this year I haven't ridden with a cyclometer. Its still on my old bike, and I've just not really wanted to put anything else on my handlebars. I have definitely missed knowing how far I've been riding. I've done some experimenting with MapMyRide. Seems like a pretty good tool to track routes and it has a training log that you can use to keep track of cumulative miles. It still has some issues, but I like it. Here is Saturday's ride.

Today, I headed out again. Wind was a pain. I guess when you don't have altitude or climbing, you should take any extra training stress you can get.

Hope to hit some singletrack this week to remind myself how to ride before the race this weekend. Weather report for the weekend is not looking good so far. Bummer.

Friday, April 25, 2008


I have a big decision to make soon about a certain race in Wyoming. Only 56 spots left. Robb is already signed up, and I know he'll kill it. There is no chance I could finish this race right now, but with 90 days to train, I am pretty sure I can be ready. I am going to need to really push and do some long rides on the weekends. Part of me wants to just sign up, thereby forcing myself to prepare. We'll see.

I'm healing up pretty well and am itching to get out and ride. I took my bike to MWC this week and Nate got everything running smooth again. I plan on riding both Saturday and Sunday and would like to hook up with any Lincoln-folk who will also be riding. I'm flexible on time and willing to drive/ride/meet anywhere. Suggestions? Leave a comment.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Hard Lessons Learned

Headed out again today for a gravel ride east of Lincoln. The idea was to ride hard for 2 hours. The wind was really blowing today making any riding in the south or eastern directions pretty difficult. North and west were obviously wind-aided, but there was still a very significant cross wind when riding west.

On my way back toward Lincoln I made a critical error, that coupled with another error made for a difficult and painful ride home. Let me break it down for you. Over the past few weeks I have gotten very comfortable on my new El Mariachi. The stability that the 29 inch wheel format delivers has proven to be very confidence building, allowing me to ride hands free easily to adjust clothing, drink, eat, stretch, etc. As I was riding west on Fletcher Ave., near 148th street, I pulled my hands off the handlebars to stretch out a little bit.

Here I will pause to detail my second error. Riding in the city and on gravel roads this spring had made me forget the importance of wearing gloves while cycling. In the summer I like to wear them because my hands tend to sweat alot and they give me better control of the bicycle. This had not been an issue yet this year, and while I still wore them on all my trail rides, I had taken to just bringing them along in a jersey pocket for my gravel rides.

Back to the narrative; I pulled my hands off the handlebars to stretch, and within 5 seconds or so was hit with a gust of wind across my front tire. I overcompensated by shifting my weight into the wind and immediately hit the road at close to 15 mph. Felt some pain in my arm and stood up to take stock of the situation. First of all, the bike escaped without major damage, although I messed up the grip that dug into the road and seemed to have either tweaked the front wheel or bent my disc rotor. I guess I'll be taking it back to MWC earlier than anticipated. As for me, my palms are both pretty tore up (no embedded gravel, thankfully), I'm missing a pretty big chunk of skin out of my left forearm (quite a bit of blood), and accumulated some other bumps and bruises (strawberries on thigh and ribcage, sore knee).

As my bike was still rideable and I didn't seem to be bleeding to death, I decided to ride the final 7 miles home instead of calling the wife. I think I scared several people walking their dogs on the Dietrich Trail. At home, Laura played nurse and applied hydrogen peroxide, iodine, and any other torturous chemicals we could find to ensure that I wouldn't get an infection. Anyway it looks like I will be taking some involuntary time off the bike, for my sake and so I can get it checked out at the shop.

Notes to self
Do not under any circumstances remove your hands from handlebars when there is a 30 mph cross wind
Wear your safety gear.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Crazy Week, Beautiful Saturday

Man, I am sure glad this week is over. The proposal we have been working on is finally coming together, so no more late nights at work. Got some good news to share; I found out on Friday that I was promoted to a Senior Design Engineer position. Best kind of promotion too, no new responsibilities.

Today was a great day. Laura and I rode our bikes to campus and enjoyed the spring game with some friends. We rode home and I headed into work to review a section of the proposal. Back home and out for a gravelly 1.5 hour ride. I felt really great on the hills and the El Mar was perfection. Gotta love a freshly tuned bike.

Tomorrow afternoon I hope to get at least 2 hours in on the bike. I'm doubtful that Wilderness is going to be anywhere near rideable for a few more days so I will probably head out east of town again. Anyone want to come? I'd also be open to suggestions.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Busy, Busy

Wow, this past week has just flown by. Work is really busy, we are submitting a proposal this week which is always hectic. Last Sunday I was able to get out for about 20 miles in the wind and hills east of Lincoln. When I got home I noticed that I had a flat tire and a loose bottom bracket and crankarm. Not exactly the ideal finish to a ride. On Tuesday, I took the El Mar in for its first tuneup and Nate and Eric made everything better. If only the rain would stop, I could get out and ride some trails; otherwise it will be another weekend of gravel for me.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Change of Plans

One of the races I am planning to do this year is the 12 Hour Mountain Bike Relay at Branched Oak State Park. I did this race last year on a two person team with my buddy Sam and had a good time even though we were not competitive in the least.

This year, the plan is to attack the course with a three person team minimum. In the past this race has been run at Area 1 and has been an overnight race, from 6 pm to 6 am, which is a really fun and interesting time to be riding bikes. Apparently, the promoters thought the race needed a shakeup because this year the race is being held from 10 am to 10 pm at Area 7. To me, this has both advantages and disadvantages.

  • No need to procure expensive light systems to race all night. We will only be racing the final hour or two in the dusk/dark.
  • Won't throw off sleep schedules and generally consume two days of the three day Memorial Day weekend.
  • Easier for friends and family to come out and enjoy the race.
  • Since the race is during the daytime, some of the shenanigans that happen when you put a bunch of wacky mountain bikers together in the middle of the night won't be happening during the cruel light of day.
  • Since the race is during the daytime, some of the shenanigans that happen when you put a bunch of wacky mountain bikers together in the middle of the night won't be happening during the cruel light of day. This one cuts both ways.
  • I am not nearly as big a fan of the Area 7 trails as I am of Area 1. Area 1 is a much more established (i.e. smoother) trail that I am super familiar with. Area 7 is relatively new and therefore bumpy.
  • Part of the fun of doing this race was the crazy looks people gave when told that not only was I doing a 12 hour mountain bike race, but that the chosen 12 hours encompassed the entire night.
  • Not really a con, but now that I won't be "required" to buy an expensive light system, I will have to find another way to stimulate the economy with my tax rebate.
Anyway should be a good time for all involved. This race has been happening every year for the past 10 years, so they must know what they are doing.

Tom posted his pictures from Saturday. He does a great job of documenting the race. Here are some of his shots.

Early in the first lap before I lost contact with the leaders.
I don't think he was impressed.
oooooh, that stings!

Robb looking fast.
Race number one in the rearview, time to look forward to whats ahead. I can't wait to get back out there.

Pic inspired by MG.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Psycowpath #1 - Maskenthine XC Classic

The first race of the year and my first XC mountain bike race ever was on Saturday at the Lake Maskenthine Recreation Area near Stanton, NE. I knew going in that I was unprepared and under trained. This condition was due to several factors, including; travel, colds, and laziness. That being said, I kept telling myself that the reason I was doing this was to get my first race jitters out of my system and learn some things that I would be able to apply to later races.

I left Lincoln at 7AM and arrived about an hour and twenty minutes before the gun. I quickly got myself and my bike ready for action. Met up with Harp, Rob, and Ryan and set off to get registered. The thinking was that by doing this now we would be saving ourselves time standing in line later. However, the whole process took much longer than expected. Afterwards we headed onto the course for a warm up lap. We completed what we thought was very near a full lap before it was time to head back to get ready for the start.

I was surprised to find my nerves to be at a manageable level while awaiting the start. The initial pace was slower than I had expected. The course begins with a climb up a gravel road before diving into the singletrack and I was in fourth at that point. From there you head downhill and into some trees where there are several log crossings of various sizes and a stone creek crossing. This part of the course was a little muddy, but I was still bummed to find that the guys in front of me were jumping off their bikes and running this section. I wanted to ride! The course then climbs out and switchbacks back and forth on an exposed hill. About halfway through this section Ryan came up behind me and shortly afterward on a tight hairpin turn I went down. I was never close to him again and he finished a strong third place in beginner open.

The rest of the course alternated between being exposed to the wind and climbing/descending in the trees. Some of these climbs were just soft enough that it really sapped your power. I was also dismayed to discover that what we thought was a nearly full lap when we were warming up was really only about half a lap. I dealt with some cramping in my calves throughout the race, but luckily not in both at the same time. The second lap went a little better than the first as my body finally realized what was going on, but at this point it was too late to make much difference.

Overall it was a good time on a great racecourse. Given another season to mature, the bumps will be smoothed out and it will be even more fun to ride. The race was well run and I have nothing but good things to say about the promoters or the race vibe.

I ended up 6th of 12 in the beginner open class. My buddy Robb raced in the beginner masters 35+ class and ended up winning the race by a couple minutes, beating all the open class racers on a singlespeed! Great job man. Hopefully some of his speed will rub off on me.

Robb and I post-race with our El Mariachis

The El Mar was rock solid during the race and responded well to my tired and ill-timed shifts on the hills. I received a lot of compliments on the bike.

Anyway, its time to start training for real. I'll post some more pictures in the coming days.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A Day at the Office

Just a couple more details about the trip to Los Angeles. I had heard of this place, Father's Office, in Santa Monica, that was supposed to be home to one of the best burgers in the nation. It is a very small, unassuming looking place that is known to have a line of people waiting to get in to eat. I headed over one evening after class around 6 pm and was able to get a seat pretty quickly. This is great because Father's Office only has open seating, i.e. first come first served, and as such there are lots of people standing inside waiting for a table even after they waited to get inside. Anyway, I went for the Office Burger and some sweet potato fries. I am known from time to time to speak hyperbolically, but I really mean it, these were the best burger and fries I have ever tasted. The burger was a revelation, juicier than a burger has a right to be, featuring perfectly complimentary flavors of arugula, bacon, blue cheese, and what I imagine is several different cuts of beef. The fries were great too, the right combination of crunch and potatoey goodness served with a blue cheese aioli. If you've never had sweet potato fries before you've got to give them a try. Again, I was too self-conscious to bust out my camera in the middle of a hip restaurant, but just like with Pizzeria Mozza, there are some really great pictures and videos here.

On the last day of my trip our class got done early so I spent some time driving around in the mountains on Mulholland Drive. It was really beautiful, LA is unique in that it is one of the only cities in the world bisected by mountains. Anyway here are a couple of the better pictures I took from Runyon Canyon Park.

The last night I checked into a hotel closer to LAX so I hit a couple of places that I had heard about (yes, I ate two dinners). First was Santouka Ramen (click for pics, not mine), located in a Japanese supermarket food court in Venice. I had always wanted to try the real food that those cheap, MSG-laden noodle soups that I ate as a college student were based on. I wasn't disappointed, I got the shio ramen with chashu, basically salt ramen with pork. The broth, made from pork bones, would be enough to bring me back, but the beautiful slices of fatty pork were the real star of the show. My second dinner was Tito's Tacos, a LA landmark and very popular place to stand in line for cheap tacos. The food was good, but I'll remember it more for being my last meal in LA and for the friendly Angelenos I talked to that night.

Ok, back to regular scheduled programming. I promise.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Bon Appetito

So the trip to Los Angeles was really good. My class, although more general than technical, provided some good information that should help my company be better positioned to capture future business. But enough about that boring stuff. The UCLA campus was absolutely beautiful. The hotel that I stayed at was really nice. And best of all, I was able to eat some really delicious food.

I only had a little less than an hour for lunch everyday, so I was pretty much relegated to eating in Westwood Village. This is far from a bad thing as there was a huge array of options. For lunch I ate burgers, thai, jewish delicatessen fare, and asian fusion. All of it was pretty good if somewhat unremarkable.

Dinner on the other hand, I had been planning for weeks. Ever since reading Heat I have had a huge amount of respect for Mario Batali and I knew that if had an opportunity to go to one of his restaurants I would jump at it. Turns out Mario and some partners opened a pair of restaurants in Los Angeles last year, Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza. Osteria Mozza I knew would be out of my price range, even on an expense account, so I focused on Pizzeria Mozza. But everything I had read indicated that even a spot at the bar would be a tough get. However, I discovered that traveling alone does have some advantages. I showed up on Monday night and was seated at the bar within five minutes while others waited for hours. Everything on the menu looked great, so I allowed my waitress to offer some advice. I ended up getting the roasted olives and the salame, mozzarella, tomato & fresno chiles pizza. Absolutely the best pizza I have ever had. The crust was perfection, and the chiles added just the right amount of kick. I was too self-conscious to bring my camera into the restaurant, but some pictures (and video!) can be found here.

That's enough for one post. I leave you with the view of Westwood Village from my hotel room balcony.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Frustrated Incorporated

Still no word on the house. It has been 5 weeks today since we put in our offer on the short-sale in the West A neighborhood. The most frustrating part is that several weeks ago we were told that we would get a response in a few days. Since then, our agents' calls to the responsible bank have gone unanswered and unreturned. We have been trying to decide how long we are willing to wait for this house before withdrawing our offer and pursuing other options. To add even more anxiety,the other house that we really liked in the same area has an offer on it now too.

The good news is we have no real impetus for moving, other than the obvious desire to own a home, and therefore can afford to wait. I think maybe we are supposed to be learning something about patience.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Christmas in March

Flew back from Los Angeles on Friday and had a laid-back, relaxing weekend. On Saturday I was able to make a trip through Wilderness Park, my first real dirt of the year. It was great, all my worries and concerns about the El Mariachi were gone once I finally got it out in its element. I felt fast, the big meat up front (run at 28 psi or so) kept my hands and wrists feeling great, and the new rear tire felt noticeably more eager to accelerate. Assuming the race this Saturday doesn't get rained out, I am confident that the only thing that will keep me from being successful is my lack of preparation. I didn't want to bring my pack on the ride, so I only got a post-ride picture.

Also exciting was a visit from the T6 fairy. Thanks to Brent and Ryan for the awesome gear. The jersey and t shirt are both super soft and fit perfectly, and of course the graphics are superb. The other schwag is super cool too. I look forward to proudly wearing the label this season as part of Team Twin Six.

For those of you interested in pictures and narrative about my trip to California, I will be posting about that in the coming days. Wait...who am I kidding, not too many people are likely to be interested. Thats cool, I primarily write about food and travel for myself, so I don't forget the meals and experiences that make these work related trips palatable (pun intended).

Monday, March 24, 2008

California Love

This past weekend I was finally able to get out and have a good, enjoyable ride. I didn't go very far due to time constraints but I made it to the end of the Murdoch trail before I turned around. I am so ready for some singletrack. I still haven't taken my new bike on a real trail ride yet that didn't feature frozen ground or ice and snow. I am thinking that opportunity should be just around the corner.

In other news, after spending all of last week at home, I am again on travel for work. This week I am learning about composite airframe structure design at UCLA. I have to admit, I've said a lot of bad things about Los Angeles in the past, but this part of the city is beautiful. Its hard not to be caught up in the glitz and glamour of it all.

Everyone who knows me well, knows that I am making eating well a priority this week. Expect posts in the coming days with some details. I have found some great inspiration in this area, and its time to get out and eat...and learn a new technical skill.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

New Shoes

I finally did something I have needed to do for a long time; I bought myself some new racing shoes. Either my feet had grown or my old shoes shrunk, but for the past few years I have suffered pretty serious ingrown toenails and blisters after long periods of riding. These will be a huge improvement and I got a great closeout deal on them. I have only heard good things about Shimano shoes. The construction seems really good with replaceable buckles just like the more expensive Sidis.

Not much in the way of riding going on for me as I am still recovering from my cold. I hope to do something about that this weekend.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

2007, Albums, Top 15

I posted earlier about my favorite albums of 2007 and about a friends' yearly attempt to provide a compiled list of acquaintance's favorite albums. Here is the final product. Pretty cool video featuring locations around Lincoln.

For those who can't wait for the whole video (or don't care to) here is the final list:

1 Radiohead In Rainbows
2 Menomena Friend and Foe
3 The National Boxer
4 Andrew Bird Armchair Apocrypha
5 Spoon Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
6 LCD Soundsystem Sound of Silver
7 Of Montreal Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
8 St. Vincent Marry Me
9 Arcade Fire Neon Bible
10 Feist The Reminder
11 The Shins Wincing the Night Away
12 Wilco Sky Blue Sky
13 Iron & Wine The Shepherd's Dog
14 Jens Lekman Night Falls Over Kortedala
15 Okkervil River The Stage Names

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sick and Tired

Got back from Burlington, Vermont yesterday afternoon. I had a good time, but short trips like that can feel sort of wasted. Two days of travel for one day of training is not real efficient. I did get to catch up with an engineer who used to work in Lincoln, and that was fun.

I also ate some great food; the best entree was from Tilley's Cafe: Pan Seared Duck w/hawaiian sea salt, roasted beet risotto, black currant sauce, grilled leeks. I'm not a chef, like a certain other local cyclist, but I thought it was real good. I also had a great fresh bagel sandwich that was unbelievable. I will never look at a typical bagel the same way again.

Anyway, I am back, having brought with me cold weather and a cold. I am so behind on my training. This first race is going to be a disaster.

I leave you with these pictures of the view from my hotel room across Lake Champlain toward New York. I took these right after I checked into the hotel, and it was the only time I saw the sun the whole time I was there.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


We finally have some good weather this week and I have the misfortune of heading to Vermont for some training for work. I have to leave 60s and sun for 30s and snow, and according to the weekend forecast I will be bringing that weather back to Nebraska with me.

Sorry guys.

Monday, March 10, 2008

New Treads

This past weekend I picked up a new tire and tube from the Wrench. I really like the WTB Weirwolf 2.55s that came stock, however with race season approaching, I was looking for less rolling resistance and rotating mass for my rear wheel. The Weirwolf is one of the fattest, highest volume 29er tires available, but is a bit of overkill for the relatively smooth singletrack we ride around here. Nate and Eric suggested the WTB Nanoraptor 2.1, their tire of choice for our local terrain. I did decide to keep the big meat on the front wheel as a bit of suspension while I am adjusting to riding a rigid fork.

Nano on left; Weirwolf on right

I have been lucky enough to have never flatted during a ride, and thus have never actually had the pleasure of changing a tire. Furthermore, I have never removed and reinstalled a rear wheel. I was able to pry the old tire from the rim with no problem, but I had a bit of trouble getting the new tire's bead to seat in the rim. I did some reading on the web and got that fixed pretty quickly. The real problems arose when I was attempting to reinstall the rear wheel. Trying to finagle the derailleur, align the rotor with the brake, and seat the wheel in the dropout made me wish I had another set of hands.

My impromptu work stand.

I finally managed to get it done (with help from the wife) with only minor injuries to my paint due to the rotor being wedged someplace it didn't belong. You can see the gouge I made on the inside of my chainstay in the picture above. Overall, it was a good experience, but something I need to practice if I am going to ever be able to do this during a race. Probably not going to have an extra set of hands available when I am out in the Wyoming wilderness. Any tips for future attempts?

Ready to roll. Looks pretty fast to me.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Laramie Enduro 111K

The focal point of my race season will be the Laramie Enduro. From their site:

"Situated in the Laramie Range of Southeastern Wyoming, this course covers some of the best mountain bike track in the region. The course is a fast and extremely fun loop, covering no ground twice. It includes virtually every kind of trail and surface a mountain biker is likely to encounter in the Rockies, from wildlife trails to single track to dirt roads. It is equally well suited for geared bikes and single speeds.

The course is a challenging 70+ miles which climbs over 8,600 vertical feet, all at elevations over 7,500 feet. You’ll race over high grass plains, through serene aspen and pine forests, and through the renowned rock-climbing venue of the Vedauwoo (pronounced Veda-Voo) Recreation Area. This event is not for the casual rider. You can finish this race, but don’t take it lightly."

This will definitely be a big step for me, as the longest mountain bike ride I have ever done is 40 miles, on flat terrain and at a much lower elevation. I have no delusions of grandeur, my goal this year will be to finish the race in the allotted 10 hours. I can focus on being fast next year. All the other riding and training I do this year will be in preparation for this event. I am really pumped.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Year in Preview

This year I am planning on doing 11 mountain bike races. This is exactly 10 more mtb races than I did last year, and 11 more than any other year. The goal is to enter all of the Psycowpath series races plus the Branched Oak 12 Hour (hopefully on a 3 man team), the Cornhusker State Games, and my real goal for this year, the Laramie Enduro. More on that later. First race is a little over a month away, I guess I better start getting used to my new bike.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

For those of you who don't habla espanol...

This is my El Mariachi. Nate hooked me up with this bike last November and unfortunately I haven't had much of a chance to ride it yet due to the brutal winter we are just getting over. What I can tell, is that once I get used to the idiosyncrasies of this particular rigid, steel, 29er (all new things for me) it will be a pretty fast machine with me on it. My goal is to train enough to be worthy of its sweet high end steel ride.

It's a force of nature.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

The wife and I put in an offer on a house this past Monday. The house is a short-sale and therefore we will be forced to wait an excruciating amount of time before the bank responds to our offer. I hope we get it because it would be a great deal, but at that same time, I know we could find something else if this falls through. In the meantime I am learning lots about frugality that will help when the mortgage payments start coming due.

Any tips for a first time homebuyer?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Little History

The past couple years I have really enjoyed riding my bike as a pastime, both solo and with friends. Being a somewhat competitive person, this segued naturally into duathlons and adventure races. My buddy Sam, and I have done several races together, but have always struggled to find the consistent third teammate required for most of the local races. This is cause for great frustration.

Last year I really started to feel the urge to do some XC races, but scheduling conflicts and insecurity about the quality of my 10 year-old $500 hardtail held me back. Sam and I did team-up for a duo attempt at a local 12 hour race, which was a great and humbling learning experience.

This year I have a new steed, a new focus, and a desire to take this cycling thing to a new level.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Top 10 Albums of 2007

Really belated, but hey, I just started this blog. I like music, a lot. My friends and I are what my wife and others would call music nerds/snobs. Every year, a group of us get together and send our individual top ten lists to our friend Jeremy, who then compiles them. This year, the group was considerably larger, and correspondingly the promotional aspect was further emphasized.

What a bunch of weirdos.

Anyway, here are what I considered to be the top albums of last year.

1 Of Montreal Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
2 Animal Collective Strawberry Jam
3 LCD Soundsystem Sound of Silver
4 Jens Lekman Night Falls Over Kortedala
5 The National Boxer
6 Menomena Friend and Foe
7 New Pornographers Challengers
8 Spoon Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
9 Okkervil River The Stage Names
10 Blitzen Trapper Wild Mountain Nation

I'll post an update when the composite list comes out. What was your favorite album this past year?

Stereotypical First Post

Well I thought I would give this whole Web 2.0 thing a try. The primary intent of this blog is to document my attempts to become a capable mountain bike racer. However, I would be kidding myself and you if I didn't admit that any given week might include posts about movies, books, my wife, my faith, Lost, etc. Basically, anything that pops up.